Category Archives: Uncategorized

Happy Birthday to Me! : Thank you so much for celebrating my birthday, Friends!

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     As you know, though you might not know, my birthday is St. Valentine’s Day. Many of my friends remember my birthday and celebrate me every year. Moreover, this year’s one was particular. One of my friends, Midori, treated me at a Hawaiian café! Another friend, Rosario, came to my apartment and fixed special lunch for me! And another one, Sue, baked a cake for me! Of course, other friends gave me wonderful presents and sent special messages, too! What a lucky person I am!

     That was on January 28. Midori asked me where I wanted to go for lunch when she picked me up. She celebrated my birthday a little bit earlier. I replied promptly, “I wanna go to Mahalo Café!” Actually, I don’t…can’t drive a car…The Hawaiian café is located in an inconvenient place to access from my apartment by public transportation. So, I requested the restaurant.

     Mahalo Café’s specialty is pancakes. Midori had pancakes with smoke salmon salad, and I had cured ham salad one, which was excellent. The restaurant was not so crowded. We chatted over delicious lunch in a comfortable atmosphere. I had a great time! Thanks, Mirodi-chan!

     In the morning of February 13, I had a Chinese exercise class. I take the class with two of my friends: Michiyo and Yukiko. Unfortunately Yukiko had something to do in the afternoon and couldn’t come, but Michiyo came to my apartment after the class. Rosario was supposed to treat me and Michiyo with Peruvian cuisine at my place.

     Firstly, Rosario made a cocktail called Pisco sour, which is drunk in special occasions, such as birthday party and wedding ceremonies, in Peru. I don’t think it’s easy to buy Pisco in Japan. Rosario brought everything from her house for the special lunch, even a rice-cooker and a shaker! Cheers!bd3

     Secondly, she made “papa a la hunakina”, and then served “poyo al horno” with turmeric rice. Of course, both of them were divine! Actually, she had prepared even dessert! She had baked cake! That was fantastic! I had a wonderful time! Muchas gracias, Rosario!

     On February 18, I took a Tai Chi class in the morning, and then had an English class in the afternoon. The surprise happened soon after the English class finished. Sue appeared in the classroom (she was taking an Italian class or something in another place that day) with her homemade cake for me! Wow! The cake was delicious, of course! Thank you, Sue-chan! And many thanks for celebrating my birthday, Friends!bd2 bd1

2013 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,500 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

My Travel in London 1 ~ Westminster ~: Would you stop climbing up my leg, please?

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london 168      I opened the curtains and looked out of the window. It wasn’t raining. “Oh, I’m lucky!” I was at a room of a hotel near West Brompton Tube Station in London on the morning of March 19. I arrived at Heathrow Airport the previous night, when it was raining hard. Besides, the weather forecast on the Internet had said the week’s precipitation would be more than 90% when I had checked in Japan. london 010

     I got dressed immediately and headed to the restaurant in the hotel for breakfast. I was supposed to have continental breakfast, but I upgraded it to a hot meal by paying £5.50. It was at around 6:30 a.m. but there were more than 10 people in the restaurant. There were fruits, salads, sausages, bacons, hams, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, omelets, bread, cereals, juices, tea, and coffee on the counter. Everything  was delicious, and I ate too much.london 017

     It was my first time to visit London. Actually, it was also my first time to go abroad by myself. I was thrilled to plan where to go that day while having breakfast. I had many places I wanted to see. I got up early because I wanted to spend my time well. After finishing breakfast, I left the hotel before 8 o’clock. london 019

     It was about a five-minute walk from the hotel to the underground station. A man was giving Metro, the newspaper, to people in front of the station. Wow! You can get a newspaper for free in London! It was my first time to use the subway in U.K., but I was able to pass the gate smoothly with an Oyster, which is an IC card for taking buses, subways and trains in London.london 026

     London’s subway is very easy to use. If your destination is west from your present place, you just go to westbound platform. That’s all. So, I did not need to check the underground map during my trip. First, I changed the train at Earl’s Court, and then got off at St. James’s Park Station. My first destination was Buckingham Palace. I walked through Petti France and got to the palace. It took about 15 minutes from the station.london 029

     There were no tourists near the palace. I just saw some people who appeared to be in a hurry to get to their offices. It was before 8:30. It might have been a little bit too early for sightseeing. I heard something like drums while I was taking photos of the palace. I started walking towards the sound, and saw some guards were marching in Wellington Barracks. I was happy to see moving guards because the guards at Buckingham Palace looked like statues…london 031

     The place I was standing and looking at the march was an entrance to St. James’s Park. I decided to walk through the park to my next destination: Westminster Abbey. People were passing by at a quick pace. They must have been in a hurry to their work places, but I was in no hurry. I was walking at leisure. london 032There were many birds and squirrels in the park. When I stopped walking to see the squirrels, one of them came to me and started climbing up my leg. “Would you stop climbing up my leg, please?” I said that in Japanese. Oh, it understood Japanese! It stared at me for a while, then climbed down and went up to a fence and saw me off. Daffodils were beautiful in the park…london 034

     When I arrived at Westminster Abbey, I saw hundreds of people waiting to enter the church. Most of them were students on school trips. I lost my drive to see the inside of the building when I saw so many people. london 039So, I went to Dean’s Yard instead of the abbey. You can go there through the gate of the yellow building next to Westminster Abbey. There is a building called the Cloisters near the yard. london 043Actually, I was going to a café named Cellarium in the building. But I didn’t have some tea there because it was before 9 o’clock, when they would open, and I was still full. That was why I just walked around the corridors peacefully. london 046

     There was a demonstration in Parliament Square across from Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. The participants looked like students. london 067All of them were wearing the same masks of Mr. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of U.K. and holding the same bags written “IF”. london 068Afterwards I discovered that it was to remind the chancellor to keep his promise on overseas aid spending before he revealed the 2013 budget next day. It is wonderful that young people are interested in politics and think seriously about the world. Sadly most Japanese students are not interested in such issues… london 061

     After seeing the flashmob, I left Westminster and headed for St. Paul’s by tube. I’ll write about Holborn and City area next time.

2012 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Japan’s Local Foods Specialty Store: Adventures by the name of "Retreat"

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      “The shop owner has gathered what he likes through traveling across Japan. Why don’t you drop by our specialty store?” I found an interesting-looking insert in the newspaper and went to the shop “Retreat” on December 1st.

     “Retreat” is located near Shiogama-guchi in Tempaku-ku, next to a Komeda coffee shop on the first floor of an apartment building. You might pass without noticing the existence because it is very small and indistinctive. The landmark is the Komeda coffee shop next door. If you find the café and see the name board saying “Retreat” at the next-door shop, yes, you can enter the specialty store.リトリート2

     Entering the shop, you will be welcomed by many local foods from all over Japan. The owner has traveled throughout Japan and purchased only foods he liked during the journeys from Hokkaido in the north and to Kyushu in the south. There are not only merchandise but photos the owner has taken in his travels on the shelves. I felt like I was traveling while being in the store.リトリート3

     The owner and the staffers are very friendly. I enjoyed talking with them. You can try some foods in the shop and have some coffee or tea. The owner told me when I visited that he was going to start lunch service soon. So many people must enjoy having lunch and talking to those cheerful people by now. Why don’t you go to the shop to look for something delicious and to talk about travels with the staff and other customers?リトリート5

 

Retreat

100 Domei-cho, Tempaku-ku. Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Map: http://goo.gl/maps/S2z3D

Tel: 052-848-8791

Teahouse of the August Moon: A fantastic illusion in Okinawa under U.S. Occupation

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“Little story now concluded. But history of world unfinished. Lovely ladies, kind gentlemen, go home to ponder. What was true at beginning remains true. Pain make man think, thought make man wise, and wisdom make life endurable. So, may August moon bring gentle sleep. Sayonara.”

These are last words of Sakini acted by Marlon Brando at the last scene of a film “Teahouse of the August Moon” in 1956. Do you know the movie? The setting is Okinawa in Japan under U.S. occupation. Marlon Brando, good-looking, Academy Award-winning, one of the greatest actors at that time, did “yellow face makeup” and appeared as an Okinawan (Japanese) interpreter in the film.

     Here is the story: Captain Fisby is relegated to Okinawa under the U.S. occupation because he has failed many things. Colonel Purdy sends him to a village named Tobiki to bring local people democracy and to build a school in a shape of Pentagon there. Fisby tries to work hard to complete his mission with Plan B, but Sakaini, the interpreter, mistranslates purposely and controls him slyly. At first Fisby tries to follow Plan B and rejects approach of Lotus Blossom, a geisha, but he gives up following the plan and accepts the geisha’s service, and gradually goes native.

     Fisby uses all materials for building a school and build a big teahouse instead. He gives up bringing education system to the village, but starts a brewery for brandy there. All of them are local people’s hope and he thinks about their happiness. One day, Purdy asks about his progress of building the schoolhouse on the phone and he thinks Fisby is going crazy while talking, and sends a psychiatrist Captain McLean for him.

     However, McLean is influenced by Fisby and the local citizens and even starts natural farming there in Japanese kimono. McLean and Fisby channel all their energies into building the teahouse and the brewery business with locals. Purdy notices something unexpected is happening in the village and visits there. He finds out the teahouse has been built instead of a school and local people do not learn about democracy but work hard for making brandy, and gets angry. He orders his man to destroy the teahouse and the brewery. Fisby and people watch everything is being destroyed.

     At night Fisby and Lotus Blossom say tearful good-bye each other. Sakini comforts him saying he is not a failure. Fisby says he used to worry about not being a success. But he learned the wisdom of gracious acceptance and has got an inner peace between his ambitions and limitations in the small village. They say good-bye and Fisby leaves when Purdy appears to look for him. A senator is using the village as a good model of policy of American occupation. Purdy feels abandoned because photographers are coming for coverage, but he has destroyed everything.

     But Sakini tells the colonel that destroyed things were water barrels and high quality brandy is hidden and the teahouse was just taken away and is able to be set up again. Purdy is very glad to hear that and calls Sakini an American. Sakini calls people to put everything back. They rebuild the teahouse as singing together. Fisby and Purdy are invited inside under the beautiful moon.

Marlon Brando does not look like Japanese at all from the eyes of Japanese at the beginning of the movie, but he has been as Japanese without any discomfort by the end of the film. Some people might disagree with me, but at least he cannot look like an Anglo-American. He hunches to show himself shorter, mimics Japanese action, and speaks Japanese and broken English in Japanese accent during the drama. I think he became a Hollywood star because of not only being good-looking but also his acting skills and his strong sense of professionalism.

Although I really enjoyed the film in a class at the university, according to Ms. Shoko Yonaha, a researcher of Okinawa’s entertainment, it was a box-office bomb in Okinawa when it was released there for the first time in 1957. It was because Okinawan thought that the movie insulted Okinawa and its people and caricatured them as colonial population, and protested against the production. Actually, three years before it, in 1954, a play of “Teahouse of the August Moon” was performed on the U.S. Army Base in Okinawa. The promoter tried to put on the stage outside of the base because it was big success, but he had to give it up due to the protest movement.

Why did Okinawan people act so repulsively against “Teahouse of the August Moon”? According to Ms. Yonaha, it was because of the scenario that the U.S. force is planning to build a school in a shape of Pentagon, but it is changed to build a teahouse by desire of local people, who regarded it as getting looked down. However, Okinawa in the film is not Okinawa at all, though I have never been there and cannot see its real scenery and life of more than 50 years ago. Okinawa has its unique natural, historical and cultural features and language. The movie looks like a digest of introducing Japan video.

This film is not a documentary at all but a comedy. A military satire. In fact, it is more a cynical joke of American military service, in which people follow manuals, never express their opinions, and just obey orders in the vertical and class society, than insulting Okinawan people.For instance, it is interesting that a character Colonel Purdy thinks only about his career advancement because of his wife’s desire, and that he adores adventure but never combats with enemies in the battle field or enjoys a wild life in nature of Okinawa but just reads an adventure magazine in his office.

There are many strange things in the film through the point of view of Japanese. For example, in the movie geisha is treated as a prostitute. Probably, people in the U.S at that time thought so. Yet, Lotus Blossom, the geisha, played by Machiko Kyo is very beautiful and charming. Besides, it is really fun that Okinawan people just look like being controlled by the U.S. Army but they achieve what they want by using Americans. So, there is no need to raise your eyebrows if the movie does not depict real Okinawa or Japan. So, why don’t you try to see it as a fantasy once?

By the way, the words I introduced at the beginning of this page finished with Japanese word “sayonara”.  Marlon Brando said the line and it is interesting that he appeared a film named “Sayonara” next year of “Teahouse of the August Moon”.

Reunion

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     The time went so quickly before I know it. It’s almost a month since 2008 started.

      For the last three weeks, I edited my address book, finished reading the number six of Harry Potter at last, which had been left half-finished for more than one year, started reading the last one of the book, met some friends, and went some winter sales and so on.

     And the event worthy of special mention for me was meeting an Indian friend again.

     He and I met at Aichi Expo in 2005. I made friends with him there, but we hadn’t met each other for two and half years since the exposition finished because he went back to India.

     This time he had an opportunity to come to Japan on business and came to see some of my friends and I in spare moments from his work.

     Before meeting us, he visited some places remembered in connection with him: the site of the exposition, some stations, and the apartment building where he used to live.

     “My apartment was still there and looked unchanged, but a different name was on the doorplate,” he said in an expression that mingled happiness and sadness.

     We went to an Indian restaurant and renewed our old friendship over delicious food. It was transient, but I had a really good time.